The New England Patriots, with the exception of last season, have been consistently fielding one of the NFL’s elite offenses, but unlike their dynasty days of the early 2000’s, they haven’t had the defense to match.
Last season, the defense, despite a slew of injuries, including ailments that cost defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo almost all of their seasons. This year, the Patriots will return both Wilfork and Mayo and made a couple of key free agent signings to pair with those veterans and their young talent. The offseason was highlighted by the signing for former New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ cornerback Darrelle Revis. They also signed cornerback Brandon Browner away from the Seattle Seahawks. With a Pro Bowl safety in Devin McCourty and a solid slot cornerback in Kyle Arrington, the Patriots have just one real question in the secondary.
Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston assessed the Patriots’ second-year players and expects Duron Harmon to be other starter in the secondary.
After playing 36.9 percent of the defensive snaps in his rookie season, he’s the leading candidate to assume more of a full-time role at safety next to Devin McCourty. He started two of the biggest games last season — at Carolina and home against Denver — and the game didn’t seem too big for him. He’s a heady player with a good understanding of the scheme who hopes to improve his consistency when it comes to tackling.
Harmon was selected by the Patriots with the 91st-overall pick in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He appeared in 15 of the Patriots’ 16 games and made 31 tackles and two interceptions.